INDIANAPOLIS — Belkis Ramirez knows what Hispanic Heritage Month means to the thousands of Latinos living in Indiana.
"Every year we celebrate the Hispanic Heritage Month, which is something that we as Latinos, have to be proud of," Ramirez said. "It is a way to say, 'We are here, we are part of this community, and we want to do the best to be included in the society, and feel like we live here. This is home for us now."
Ramirez has played an important part during the pandemic as an infectious disease program specialist at the Marion County Public Health Department.
"With a pandemic there's a lot of challenge increasing the community," she said. "We have a lack of opportunities, we have a lack of a lack of resources in the community, but with a pandemic, everything increases."
This Friday, at their annual Hispanic Heritage Month Luncheon at the JW Marriott downtown, the Indiana Latino Institute will honor Ramirez with a special award recognizing her tireless work in the community.
"I'm very excited to receive it," Ramirez says with a smile. "I'm very grateful and blessed. Everything that I do for the community is a payoff for all the opportunities that this country has giving me. There are a lot of needs in the community. We need more leaders, we need more people, we need a village."
Born in Colombia, Ramirez moved to Indiana 17 years ago. What does she love most about living in Indianapolis?
"I like the people," she said. "I like the environment. There is a very big family environment here. I really like it and enjoy it."
During Hispanic Heritage Month, Ramirez wants to stress equality among all races in Indianapolis.
"No matter the country, nationality, language or race, we are all the same and we deserve all the same," Ramirez stresses.
That's a point she makes to her twin sons Dylan and Jeylan everyday.
"With our children, we need to teach them how to be inclusive," she said. "If we can improve the quality of life, not only for them but for the other people, then we can do better."
To find out more about the Indiana Latino Institute’s annual luncheon on Friday at the JW Marriott, click here. 13News will be featuring Hispanic events and individuals for the next few weeks to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.